Source: Innocent

Akinluyi joined Innocent in 2021

Innocent’s UK managing director Sam Akinluyi is to leave as part of an internal shake-up at the Coca-Cola-owned juice and smoothie business.

Akinluyi is to depart three years after joining Innocent from non-profit organisation Psalt. Previously he worked for Nestlé and as grocery channel sales director for Mars.

News of his exit comes just weeks after the announcement Innocent’s long-standing COO James Davenport is to leave this summer after more than 20 years at the smoothie giant.

Also leaving Innocent is regional director for Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Nordics Franz Bruckner.

The departures come as Innocent looks to respond to one of its “most challenging years” to date.

Revenues at Innocent slid by £15.6m – a 3.5% fall year on year – to £426.2m in the 12 months ended 31 December 2022, as the brand was hit by stiff competition from own label, soaring costs and production issues at its new £200m factory.

In accounts filed in January, Innocent said it was hit by “very large” increases in commodity prices, energy, logistic and packaging. The ramping up of production at its new all-electric factory in Rotterdam – known as ‘The Blender’ – meanwhile, had been slower and more costly than anticipated.

Resultantly, Innocent’s operating losses grew by £31.8m higher to £41.3m, while losses after tax increased more than five-fold to £48.8m.

In response, Innocent said it had undertaken a strategic review of its business, leading to the launch of “an updated purpose, ambition and strategy”.

A spokesman for Innocent said: “To ensure Innocent is set up to succeed on this purpose and deliver on our long-term strategy as a fully fledged end-to-end company, over the past few months, we have been analysing what structures and capabilities are needed in our evolved business model to take us forward to our 2030 ambition to deliver a billion more portions of fruit & veg.”

Through this process, Innocent’s board of directors had “agreed on the right way to reshape the leadership team to put us in the best possible position to continue to grow profitably and responsibly”, the spokesman said.

“This new phase of our company strategy has provided a natural opportunity for some of our leadership team to make the decision to move on from Innocent,” he added.

Posting on LinkedIn today (14 May), Akinluyi confirmed his departure. 

He said: ”Over the last few months, alongside my board colleagues, we’ve worked to shape the right board structure for the future.  As part of this process, I’ve made the personal decision that this is the right time for me to move on.”

Innocent expects to implement a new board structure and confirm new appointments to its board – of which Davenport was a member – on 1 June.

Asked if Innocent planned to make job cuts following the review of its operations, the spokesman declined to comment.